Back Story

As I have promised myself and God…to “live out loud” in my blog…I have a story to share. It is one I am not proud of…but one that I share in hopes that you truly see that I am a continuing work in progress, a receiver of God’s grace. A receiver of someone else’s forgiveness. Learning the lesson that God is continually teaching me and I hope that you can learn from my mistake!

A few days ago…we had a handyman at our house whose name is Jose. He is a kind man who is friendly and loves to talk. He has been coming to our house for the last couple of weeks to take care of many little things all over the house that needed repair…from broken lights …to weather stripping around the bottom of our doors being replaced. For the last week I have been home an unusual amount so, to be brutally honest, I have been a little annoyed with Jose.

The quiet that I enjoy when I read and write has been staggered with interruptions. For a lack of better words, I’ve been trying to work in a construction zone. NOT! Sadly my annoyance was mounting and directed at Jose.

Yesterday, while I was in my bathroom readying for the day, I could see and hear Jose working outside my window. I became very annoyed that he was working with one hand while being on the cell phone with another. This went on for the entire time I was getting ready! I allowed my annoyance to grow to the point that I decided I would say something to him…since we were paying him by the hour!

So…as I left the house for appointments…I stopped him and said, “While you are at work, and since we are paying you by the hour, I would appreciate it if you would not take phone calls.” His reply was a short response with an angry look, “I was talking to my wife and when she calls I have to answer.” That was it! I just kept walking.

Of course that afternoon I walked back into the house and Jose was still there working. I felt a nagging in my spirit and battled conflicting voices in my ear.

One of guilt and condemnation
one of conviction and remorse over my words.

One voice was Satan and the other was the Holy Spirit.

Remorse and conviction of sin from the Holy Spirit over my thoughts and letting my annoyance run away with me. Guilt from Satan telling me I was a bad person…a fool. Satan even whispered, “And you call yourself a Christian” because of my words. Jose seemed to have gotten over his anger.

As usual God woke me up around 2 a.m. with that nagging feeling of conviction so I confessed my harsh thoughts of Jose. I didn’t feel my words were filled with a harsh tone or bad delivery …even though his response was “visible anger and annoyance.”

During my quiet time the next morning, I prayed for patience with Jose, knowing he was returning that day. As I was praying, my cell phone rang. I didn’t recognize the number but I answered because I was expecting a book delivery. I thought it might be the carrier but it was Jose! I didn’t even know he had my number.

He called to tell me he was going to be late because he had to go to the pharmacy. I apologized to him. I told him that my words the day before seemed to make him angry and for that I was sorry. At that point he told me, “I have to answer when I am working if it is my wife. She is disabled and I am the only one she has to call.” At that point I again apologized and he was gracious to me. We hung up the phone and tears started to flow…I felt so small…so ugly…so…dirty.

Satan, for a short moment, had a field day with me. I had to cast down his voice…to distinguish God’s voice. God softly reminded me of my own writings about “not judging”. Sometimes, when you don’t know someone, you have NO IDEA of their “Back Story!” You don’t know what is currently going on in the lives of strangers or what has gone on in their lives that has shaped them. God also reminded me to bring my annoyance to Him.

If you don’t remember or didn’t read a blog I posted some time ago, I had a similar story of being in line at the grocery store and being annoyed in my thoughts and spirit over the “sluggishness” of the check out lady, one whom I loved and I often picked her line. Those thoughts were only in my head but still sin in my heart, which I confessed and repented of.

As I was checking out that day, God prompted me to ask her if she was ok. You see, she was visibly different from the countless other times she has helped me with my groceries. She then shared that she had recently lost her son in a car accident and she was also dealing with a fresh diagnosis of breast cancer! Needless to say, that taught me a valuable lesson in realizing people have back stories that I am not privy to. That day I was sensitive to the Holy Spirit. I still repented in my heart over my thoughts but God taught me a lesson that day. This week I obviously needed a “tune up lesson!”

Yesterday…God…convicted and gently and graciously reminded me to be keenly aware of my thoughts and actions towards people, especially strangers. I do not know their “Back story” and most of the time they have one. He reminded me to be more prayerful, patient and kind and to be more sensitive to the Holy Spirit in those instances…because even if I am not privy to someone’s “back story,” God is. He can prompt my spirit to be sensitive. To remember “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the bones,” (Proverbs 16:24). My responsibility is to recognize the temptation from the enemy and his prompting whispers…that increase my annoyance and make me think, “I know best!”

I am so thankful to God that He is patient and gentle with me. Sometimes the sting we feel from our sin is a great teacher but it is a terrible feeling when it is at someone else’s expense.

My tune up lesson? My thoughts should have gone in a different direction. My thoughts, which were focused on an annoyance, someone on the phone while they were working, led to me hurting someone else (sin). The pain I caused could have been prevented if I had prayed before I spoke. You see, I fully believe that if I had prayed before I spoke to Jose, God would have stopped me from speaking and hurting him. God is all-knowing and if I had stopped to run it by Him, I know from past experience that He wouldn’t hesitate in showing me. “In the multitude of words sin is not lacking, but he who restrains his lips is wise,” (Proverbs 10:19). It’s so true! He would have reminded me to restrain my words I’m sure.

Yesterday I just failed to “filter my thoughts and actions ” through HIM. Result? FAIL…a big fail on my part…the stinging tears this morning…of remorse were good for me…but painful.

Thankfully I know God can heal Jose’s heart and hurt…and he can forgive me. It doesn’t take back…my words..and actions…but, as always, God is faithful…not only to forgive but to heal. We just can’t pick how or when.

“Forgiveness is the name of love practiced among people who love poorly. The hard truth is that all people love poorly. We need to forgive and be forgiven every day, every hour increasingly. That is the great work of love among the fellowship of the weak that is the human family.” ~Henri J.M. Nouwen

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